I had put in for OCC (56km) in Decemeber again as I loved it in 2018 however I was refused in the ballot this year. When I was refused an email came out about a month later to say that MCC (40km) had spaces and it was a first come first serve, I thought when else would I get to do MCC? It’s the locals race so if you have a French postcode you can enter it. I managed to secure a spot and the race was on!
On Sunday 25th August we arrived back in Chamonix for our 4th year in a row. I had booked for a 2pm till 4pm registration slot. Thinking registration would be busy and that the queue would take forever we went along early, it was dead compared to previous years. Probably cause it was only MCC and PTL people registering.
I headed in to the MCC queue and collected my list of mandatory kit that I had to get out for checking. There was a lot on there this year.
Off I went round to get my bib number and my wrist band. All of this was done and dusted in about 20 to 30 minutes. Just after I left registration I received a text saying that 2ltrs of water would be required as the route is exposed to the sun and that it would be 29 degrees.
We headed back to our hotel to drop off my stuff. The hotel was right next to the finish. I had booked us in here as the chalet we were going to stay in with friends wasn’t ready till Monday afternoon, it was pretty basic but did the job for the night.
Race start was on Monday 26th August at 10am in Martigny-Combe.
So I got up at 6:30am and headed for the 8am bus as it was an hours journey to the start from Chamonix. Waved Ian off and told him I was scared as I usually do.
Finally our bus arrived in Martigny-Combe and I headed to the toilet queue before everyome else arrived. I noticed people heading into the sports centre there so I followed to be nosey. It was nice and warm inside and they were serving tea and coffee with some fruit bread slices. I had a nice cup of tea and some bread and headed off to join the toilet queue again, always gotta make sure!
Walking out of the centre I bumped into Giles, we are instagram friends and hes also a friend of a friend who done PTL last year.
I nervously headed down to the start.
I went into the start pen and bumped into Krysia who I was tagged in a post on Instagram with – small world!! We chatted to each other which was good for calming the nerves. Before we knew it we were clapping (awkwardly) and doing a Mexican wave then it was time to go.
Krysia was off in a flash and before we knew it was up hill on the road for a good 3 to 4km before hitting some grass. Lots of switch backs later we were on a trail and in the first bottleneck. It felt like a lifetime waiting to get through but it was probably about 3 minutes. We were waiting and heard all this shouting, it was a group of peope which were pulling a wheelchair. We cleared the way and let them through while all cheering.
On the way up to Col de la Forclaz it was all up hill. It was getting warm and I remember texting Ian 6km in saying I couldn’t do it cause it was so hot and I was getting frustrated cause all I had done was hike, not even a fast hike.
The first checkpoint was 8km up, the checkpoint food and drink was good. I filled my bottle and got a couple of cups of coke and some slices of watermelon.
In my bottles I had some SIS electrolytes cas I made the mistake last during OCC not having any and paying the price later with stomach cramps.
Leaving the checkpoint I knew there was a futher 9km up to Col de Balme which was the highest point in the race at 2300 meters so long way to go. Leaving Col de la Forclaz we ran along some of the TMB and then down to a bridge over the river leading us onto some switch backs. Some of this part was in the shade so it made it a little easier here, as soon as we got out of the shade it was absolutely roasting, I stopped for a rest a bunch of times just to catch my breath and take a gel – SIS raspberry electrolyte (yuck). Pottered my way up again, I changed my watch from seeing distance to elevation so I knew when I was getting closer to the top. I stopped again in the shade with many other people. A French woman stopped and said “come on Victoria, let’s keep going” it was really nice. I followed her footsteps up the hill, it was slow but it helped a lot. The woman stopped and told me to carry on, I did as the pace was good for me and I felt rested again.
There was a girl sat on the ground, who got up as I approached her. There was signs here saying that poles were not to be used as there was a chain attached to the wall for holding on to. The sign also said no overtaking and there was a marshal waiting at the top.
I followed the girl in front and we made it to the top of this section, the girl stopped dead and started throwing up. Which then made me feel sick, I asked her if she would be okay and she said yes, the marshal was there too. I continued.
There was another refuge not a checkpoint though. I filled up my water as I had moved on to my 3rd bottle on this climb up and I still wasn’t even at the top!
I saw people climbing up some rocks, something different! It was fun clambering over the rocks, this section went on for about 4km. Rocks, chains and some path. It wasn’t too bad and the chains weren’t really needed. It was like a big conga line, some people in front weren’t confident on these sections but I felt alright, I was just wanting to get going to the checkpoint. After about 2km of being stuck, I managed to squeeze by the guy in front and I was off, on my way to the refuge, it was up and down, up and down all the way along. I kept looking at my watch never hitting the right elevation. Finally I could see the checkpoint in the distance with another small climb to it. Reached the checkpoint, I ate some salted peanuts here and watermelon – so good and refreshing! More coke obviously and off I went. I was getting hungry for proper food then I remembered that I had a breakfast bar my pack so I broke some of it off and munched it as I walked out the checkpoint.
A woman came running along, she was from the UK also. She said that we had 8km to cover in just over an hour and that we’d be cutting it fine. So in panic mode I was like right better get a move on then. I ran and ran and ran and ran for what felt like ages down. Then in the distance I saw another hill that we were going to climb. Looking at my phone I had some messaged from friends saying “all downhill from here” I was so annoyed cause it was definitely not all downhill but it was absolutely stunning views along this section from Col de Balme.
So I plodded on and then we hit more downhill, I ran and ran and ran all the way down here, I overtook a whole bunch of people here. My quads were starting to hurt I just kept running. I did not want to get timed out.
I knew the next place was Le Tour. It was busy and at the time I didn’t realise I was in Le Tour, all I saw was a bus that said it on the front. I thought I heard someone say the checkpoint was 1km away so I kept running. I saw a guy lying on the ground with his foil blanket on and people around him. I don’t remember a checkpoint at all just a water station. So I kept running and running thinking that 1km is a long way. Then I spotted a familiar face, it was Quila, Sarah and Ian! I asked them where I was, they said Argentiere. I told them someone had said to me that we would be cutting it fine and they told me I was 45 minutes ahead of the cut off! I thought phew I can relax a bit now.
Headed into the check point for some more coke and spotted more watermelon. I casually went about stuffing as many pieces as I could and I said how good it was and the marshal said “you are lucky this is the last watermelon” so of course I felt really bad for stuffing about 8 pieces in my mouth, left the checkpoint with my belly full of watermelon and my head hanging in shame.
Along the road I saw Ian, Sarah, Paul and Quila. It was nice seeing them all again, we didn’t get to chat much though, they all walked me out along the road to the trail.
Back on the trail there was a few people just sat down looking miserable. It was still roasting hot and it was about 3 or 4pm. Further along I saw another person absolutely throwing his guts up. I kept thinking it’s not worth being sick for, I can’t deal with sick. Luckily someone else in front asked if he was okay and he said yeah – he wasn’t but I suppose he was being polite.
Then I thought, it should be flat all the way back to Chamonix, we started to climb again. Hit a road crossing where a guy scanned our race numbers, ths must have been a cheeky wee cut off area. We went up again, not like before but up was still up and it was tiring now. Through trees which was nice but still just as warm! Up and down, up and down so many times I thought this is it. Lots of tree roots on the ground made it very difficult to run properly and not trip over them when you’re tired. Finally came out of the trees and I could see the river I knew I was close I text Ian and said 5km. I had a small walk then, I made small goal posts. Run to that big tree and walk. Run to that bench and walk. So I kept doing that along the flat. Out from the trees a man running towards me! It was Gavin in his Pylon tshirt, it was such good timing. He was out on his own run, he gave me a big hug and asked me how I was I said “hot and hungry” I was starving. He made me start runing again which was good and he text Ian to say I was on my way.
Running along the side of the river seeing more and more people again cheering. It’s a nice feeling. Gavin ran me the whole way along here which I probably wouldn’t have done, it would have just been a mixture of running and walking. Through the crowded street as it was getting towards dinner time, it was hard to get through.
I saw Ian waiting at the bottom then I had to do the small loop round the back of the river and up to the finish. Yvette and her friend Dai were there cheering which was again so nice to see friendly faces. The finish was a welcomed site, Ian was there waiting with Lachlan. They gave me hugs and a well done. Yvette came for a sweaty hug too!
I said to Ian I was starving so we went to get my medal and a trucker style hat for finishing. Checked out the food at the finish but it was more of the same checkpoint food, yuck!
Headed off to the local bakery and got a nice baguette then headed of to get pizza!
Overall, it was a love hate relationship with this race. I hated the uphill in the sun. I’d probably do the bit from Col de Balme again as it was beautiful. Hard race but enjoyable distance as it was 40km (24 miles). Recommend if you ca’nt get into the race you put in for definitely go for the MCC if the chance is there.
8:54:33 and I’m okay with that given that it was 29 degrees and a month after Lakeland 50.